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NMSU basketball program is a warning sign

On Friday, Feb. 10, New Mexico State University basketball announced the cease of basketball operations for the remainder of the 2022-23 season due to hazing allegations against the team. Photo courtesy of Defense Visual Information Distribution Service

It was announced Friday, Feb. 10,  the New Mexico State University (NMSU) basketball team would cease basketball operations for the remainder of the 2022-2023 season. The school’s chancellor Dan Arvizu, who has headed the university since 2018, wrote a letter to the NMSU student body addressing the allegations made against members of the NMSU basketball team. 

KTSM obtained a police report from the NMSU Police Department, which charged three individuals with false imprisonment, harassment and criminal sexual contact.  An individual from the NMSU basketball team filed the report but refused to file criminal charges. 

Soon after, Arvizu delivered his statement. 

“I was so heartbroken and sickened to hear about these hazing allegations,” Arvizu wrote. “Hazing is a despicable act. It humiliates and degrades someone and has the potential to cause physical and emotional harm, or even death. Sadly, hazing can become part of an organization’s culture, if left unchecked. NMSU policy strictly prohibits hazing, in all forms, and it’s something we simply will not tolerate.” 

This is not the first incident involving NMSU basketball players this season. In November, NMSU junior forward Mike Peake shot and killed Brandon Travis, a University of New Mexico student. This according to New Mexico State Police. This incident led to the upcoming matchup between the two schools to be cancelled. 

Then Head Coach Greg Heiar expressed his sentiment for the former Aggie when speaking to State Officer David Esquibel. 

“I mean, (Peake) is going to have a long road ahead of him no matter what,” Heiar said. “He may never play a second of basketball for me ever again. That’s just the reality, so I need to protect the rest of my team and the rest of my people while you guys are doing the investigation.” 

Heiar is no longer with the NMSU basketball program as he was fired. In the same letter to the NMSU community, Arvizu announced Heiar would no longer continue in Las Cruces and the rest of the staff would be let go on paid leave as the program is left in limbo. 

The culture created in NMSU is a part of larger issue in college sports and college in general as hazing has claimed the lives of several college students. Elizabeth J. Allan and Mary Madden, associate professors at the University of Maine, found that since 1970, at least one student dies in a hazing incident a year on a U.S. campus. In the same study, Allan and Madden revealed only one out of every 10 students recognized they have been hazed. 

What happened at NMSU should serve as a warning for not just athletes, but any student. The Dean of Students Office is obligated though Title IX to openly report any incidents of hazing reported to the university. The only incident in the past three years involves the sorority Alpha XI Delta back in 2021. The infraction, as reported by the Dean of Students Office was, “new members were sprayed with a water hose during the chapter’s initiation ceremony.” 

The incident was finalized Aug. 5, 2021, with the offenders facing a year suspension with Disciplinary Probation. UTEP offers several avenues to report hazing incidents including the Office of Institutional Compliance located in Kelly Hall room 312 and UTEP Police which is located at 3118 Sun Bowl Drive. 

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is the sports editor and may be reached at [email protected]: @rivasemmanuel2 on Instagram. 

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About the Contributor
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela, Contributor/Writer
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is a contributor for The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in multimedia journalism with minors in political science and Chicano studies. Emmanuel served as sports editor at The Prospector and as a writer with Minero Magazine. Now, Emmanuel is interning at El Paso Matters and is a contributor at The Prospector.
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NMSU basketball program is a warning sign